Nutrition for Kids

A Dietary Approach to Lifelong Health

Play with Your Food Art ©


Parents know that the road to lifelong good health begins
with healthful eating and plenty of exercise. Getting children started on this path is easy with a little assistance. In this guide, you will find the tools you and your family need to achieve many of your health goals, including up-to-date nutrition information, advice on changing habits, tips to get your family started, and plenty of delicious recipes.

Play with Your Food Art ©

Lifelong Habits Start Early
Food preferences and lifestyle habits of physical activity are established early in life.1 Building a diet with fruits, vegetables, healthful grains, and legumes from a young age will help children prefer those foods throughout their lives. These foods are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, which help protect against disease and promote a healthful body weight. When a vegetarian diet is established at an early age, not only can it provide nutritional advantages, but it will also promote healthful eating habits beyond adolescence, to the teen years and into adulthood. Vegetarian teens have higher intakes of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals through greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fiber than their nonvegetarian counterparts.2

Weighing in on Health
People who maintain a healthy weight throughout life tend to stay healthier and live longer. The lifestyle habits that help keep us slim—exercise and a healthy diet—also cut our risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. The prevalence of obesity among our nation’s youth has tripled in the past 30 years.3 Too many children today have a reduced life expectancy and a diminished overall quality of life due to excess weight. Childhood obesity can lead to certain cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and abnormal glucose tolerance or diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that 70 percent of obese children had at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor for heart disease, such as raised blood pressure or insulin levels, while 30 percent presented two or more additional risk factors.4 Many adolescent boys and girls in the United States are currently trying to lose weight (36 and 44 percent, respectively). Of those, 30 percent of

girls and 18 percent of boys practice unhealthful or even dangerous dieting methods.5 While dramatically restricting calories is effective at lowering weight for the short term, calorie restriction can jeopardize normal growth and development in children and adolescents, as other essential nutrients from food will also be restricted. Further, excess weight is usually symptomatic of poor dietary patterns that calorie restriction alone will not address. Instead, children (and adults) can simply switch to healthful foods. Eating a diet built from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, people tend to feel satisfied with fewer calories. For example, when a child chooses a veggie burger instead of a hamburger, he will save 180 calories. As an added benefit, the veggie burger has no cholesterol and 6 extra grams of fiber. A bean burrito loaded with lettuce, tomato, and salsa has 135 fewer calories than a beef and cheese burrito, while still providing all the nutrients children need. It is easy to make the switch and well worth the time. It is never too early to adopt a healthful diet or engage in an active lifestyle. All children need fun physical activity and good nutrition regardless of age or body size.

Food Veggie Burger Hamburger Homemade Bean Burrito Fast-Food Chili-Cheese Burrito

Calories 218 373 183 363

Fat (g) 5 21 3 21

Fiber (g) 7 2 7 2

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,
Play with Your Food Art ©

Weighing in on Disease Risk
Overweight children are likely to become overweight adults, thus increasing risk for a host of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers.

Weight Management Tips from Dr. Spock
Dr. Benjamin Spock, pediatrician, medical researcher, and teacher, advised in his book Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care that weight-loss programs for children should be based on changing the types of foods children eat rather than the amount of food they eat. He encouraged shifting the entire family away from oily fried foods, meats, and dairy products and toward low-fat, plant-based foods: grains, pasta, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. When this is done, he stated, “weight loss typically occurs without anyone going hungry.” 6 This is the key to lifelong weight maintenance.

Research shows a direct association between the amount of excess weight in childhood and cancer risk in adulthood. For every one-point increase in body mass index, there is a 9 percent increase in adult cancer risk.7 Therefore, the more overweight a child is, the greater his or her risk of developing cancer is later on. Cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate are influenced by diet, exercise, and healthy weight control. Lifelong eating habits are established in childhood, and the longer the exposure to cancer-fighting foods and the avoidance of cancer-promoting foods, the greater the likelihood that cancer won’t strike during adulthood. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that vegetarians have reduced breast cancer risk, compared to meat-

eaters, most likely due to the abundance of healthful foods and avoidance of meat throughout their lives.8

Although it is almost entirely preventable, type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent and costly chronic diseases in the United States. Without a change in eating and exercise habits, one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes in adulthood. For Hispanic children, one in two will develop this disease.9

Heart Disease
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 20 percent of adolescents ages 12-19 have at least one abnormal lipid level: LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or triglycerides. Among overweight and obese adolescents, those rates were even higher, with 22 percent of overweight and 43 percent of obese children having one or more abnormalities.10 Abnormal lipids are risk factors for heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the United States.11

Play with Your Food Art ©

Here are some ideas for making the switch:
• Identify three or four vegetarian recipes your family already enjoys. Examples include bean burritos, pasta with marinara sauce, vegetable stir-fries, and vegetable soup. Next, think of three or four more frequently prepared meals that can be easily adapted. For example, chili can be made vegetarian with beans, and other favorites, such as sloppy joes and tacos, can be made with lentils or soy products. • Experiment and broaden food options. Try new foods, recipes, and places to eat to keep it interesting and enjoyable. Sometimes, when people change their food intake because of concerns about health, body size, or personal beliefs, they focus too narrowly on just a small number of foods. Exploring the broad range of healthful foods now available makes a menu change fun, nutritious, and sustainable. • Choose low-fat, healthful options whenever possible. Choosing low-fat recipes and eating a variety of colors are good ways to ensure that your child’s diet is a healthful one. For example, oven-roasted potatoes should be chosen over french fries, pasta with marinara sauce is a better option than spaghetti with meatballs, and fruit sorbet is just as refreshing as, but much more healthful than, ice cream. The introduction of new foods adjusts the taste buds and develops an appreciation for good, wholesome food. • Avoid foods and beverages with added sugar, fat, and salt, such as candy, soda, fruit punch, cookies, and fried snack foods. Fatty condiments like creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter, and margarine are best left off the plate. Instead of building meals around fatty meats and cheeses, meals should be created with whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, and vegetables. Instead of salt, flavor foods with herbs, spices, and lemon juice. Choose lower-sodium versions of packaged foods such as canned vegetables, frozen meals, and condiments.



The Power Plate
Plan meals using the Power Plate: whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Nutritious diets built from these food groups help children maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of certain diseases later in life. See suggested number of servings for each group in the daily meal planning table on page 10.

Whole Grains
Grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins, and magnesium. Refined grains and sweets such as cookies and cakes should be kept to a minimum. • Whole grains include breads, hot and cold cereals, pasta, cooked grains such as rice and barley, and crackers. • One serving equals 1 slice bread; 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal; 1 6-inch tortilla; 1 cup cold cereal; or 1/2 bun or bagel.

Vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and other nutrients. Dark green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, contain calcium* and vitamin K. • Dark green, orange, and red vegetables include collard greens, dark green leaf lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, and red bell peppers. • Starchy vegetables include corn, green peas, baby lima beans, white potatoes, and plantains. • Other vegetables include beets, cabbage, celery, green beans, mushrooms, onions, and zucchini, and many more. • One serving of vegetables equals 1/2 cup cooked or raw for most vegetables. A serving of raw leafy greens, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and bok choy, is 1 cup.
* While calcium in most green vegetables is easily absorbed, there are three exceptions: spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens. The calcium in these greens is trapped and can’t be absorbed.

Fruits are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate. Be sure to include at least one serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries are all good choices. • Fruit servings should be mainly whole fruits that are fresh, canned in 100 percent fruit juice, frozen, or dried. • One serving equals 1 small apple; 1 plum; 1/2 cup sliced or chopped banana, mango, or melon; 1/2 cup 100 percent juice; 1/4 cup dried fruit; or 1 4-ounce snack container of unsweetened applesauce or fruit cocktail canned in juice.


Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
Beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seeds are good sources of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Legumes are the richest sources of fiber. Products made from soy and other vegetable proteins can be used in place of meat in many recipes. Try tofu, veggie burgers, soy “meats,” seitan, and tempeh. • Beans and lentils include black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans or chickpeas, lentils, split peas, and black-eyed peas. One serving of beans and lentils is 1/2 cup cooked. One serving of hummus is 1/4 cup. • Nuts, seeds, and soy include almonds, walnuts, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. One serving equals 1 ounce mixed nuts, 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter; 1/2 cup tofu; 2 ounces tempeh; 1 soy veggie burger patty; or an 8-ounce glass of unsweetened soymilk.

What about omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil?
Fish have a lot of omega-3 fat because they eat algae, and those fats come from the algae. Children can get omega-3s from plant foods, too, without the cholesterol and contaminants found in fish. Plant sources of omega-3s include ground flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and tofu. Instead of eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, the healthful nutrients EPA and DHA can be found, fish-free, in algae-derived DHAfortified foods and vegetarian supplements.

Play with Your Food Art ©

8 Kid Classics
Being vegetarian doesn’t mean having to give up classic kid fare. While whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes should be chosen first, many of the foods children enjoy can be adapted to fit into a vegetarian menu. Here are some tips: • Pizza. Try ordering pizza without the cheese and pile on the veggies. If making pizza at home, top it with vegetables, soy cheese, and veggie pepperoni. • Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Both come in a wide variety of veggie versions. You can microwave them, bake them, grill them, and top them with everything you traditionally enjoy, including soy cheese. • Cold Cut Sandwiches. Even the cold cut now has a nonmeat alternative. Try a slice of veggie ham, veggie turkey, or veggie salami topped with lettuce and tomato and a thin layer of mustard or vegan mayonnaise between slices of whole-wheat bread. • Chicken Nuggets and Buffalo Wings. Several companies offer these traditional favorites in veggie form (look in the frozen food section of the supermarket). Just add ketchup or barbecue sauce. • Ice Cream. Soy or nut-based ice creams are a terrific nondairy alternative that comes in a variety of styles and flavors. For a twist, add frozen fruit and a little soymilk to vanilla soy ice cream, and blend to make a smoothie. A scoop of fruit sorbet—found at many of the large ice cream chains or at the grocery store—is also a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. • Fast Food. Food chains such as Subway offer vegetarian sandwiches, and Taco Bell makes a bean burrito (just ask them to hold the cheese).

Sample Menus for Children and Teens
Breakfast: Lunch: Dinner: Snacks: Breakfast: Oatmeal with unsweetened applesauce, soymilk** Alphabet Soup*, whole-grain crackers, carrot sticks, banana Pita Pizzas*, fresh cucumber, cherry tomatoes Peach, granola, soymilk** Whole-grain cereal with strawberries and soymilk** Hummus sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce and tomato, apple juice, orange wedges, carrot sticks Baked veggie nuggets, Simply Delicious Winter Squash*, Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges*, rice milk**, fruit salad Graham crackers, banana Granola topped with soy yogurt**, blueberries, and almonds, calcium-fortified orange juice Curly Pasta Salad*, green salad, whole-wheat bread, apple Hearty Chili Mac*, green beans, cucumber salad Popcorn, trail mix, strawberries, almond milk** Bagel with peanut butter and banana, calciumfortified orange juice Veggies in a Blanket*, pretzels, apple Bean burrito with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole, rice, baked tortilla chips and salsa, peach, soymilk** Hummus and crackers, Strawberry Smoothie*


Dinner: Snacks: Breakfast: Lunch: Dinner: Snacks: Breakfast: Lunch: Dinner: Snacks:

* See delicious recipes starting on page 18. ** Choose unsweetened plant milks fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Play with Your Food Art ©

Daily Meal Planning for Children and Teens
Planning meals with the Power Plate is easy. Choose a variety of foods from each group, and take a daily multivitamin. Calorie needs vary from child to child. The recommendations in the table below are general, for moderately active children and teens ages 3 to 18.
Food Group Females 3-6 Males 3-5 Females 7-18 Males 6-11 Males 12-18

Mostly whole grains 4 to 5 servings 5 to 6 servings 7 to 10 servings

Dark green, orange, and red Starchy vegetables Other vegetables 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving 1 to 2 servings 1 to 2 servings 1 serving 2 to 3 servings 2 servings 2 servings

2 to 3 servings 3 to 4 servings 4 to 5 servings

Beans and lentils Nuts, seeds, and soy 1 serving 1 to 1 1/2 servings 1 to 1 1/2 servings 1 1/2 to 2 servings 1 1/2 to 2 servings 2 to 2 1/2 servings

See “Tips for Important Nutrients: Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and More” on page 15.

Keeping Kids Moving
Fitness has four dimensions: cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and body composition. Activities that get the heart pumping, such as running, swimming, bicycling, aerobics, and playing sports or outdoor neighborhood games, improve cardiovascular fitness. Strength-training activities, such as weightlifting, pushups, and sit-ups, as well as many daily tasks, such as digging in the garden, lifting boxes, carpentry work, and so forth, improve muscular development and bone strength. Stretching, yoga, gymnastics, dancing, and martial arts all promote flexibility. A healthy body composition balances muscle and other lean tissue with an appropriate amount of fat tissue for a child’s age and sex. Healthy body compositions are achieved through a combination of an active lifestyle and a varied menu of grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. Find ways to incorporate fun physical activity into your family activities daily. Children need to be engaged in active pursuits for at least an hour each day.

Fitting In Fun Physical Activities
Encourage children to play with other children and to do active things with family members. Most communities have locally organized activity programs after school, on the weekends, and during the summer. Since gym class and team sports are not every child’s cup of tea, encourage individual interests such as ice skating, ballet dancing, or skateboarding. Speak with children about their activity patterns. Children should be active for at least 60 minutes on most days. Sedentary activities, such as TV watching and computer time, should be limited except when homework requires it. U.S. preschoolers ages 2 to 5 spend approximately 32.5 hours a week in front of the television and grade-school students ages 6 to 11 watch for 28 hours each week.12 Add to this the time spent using the Internet, doing homework, and eating dinner—and many children spend too much time sitting still. Encouraging children to adopt a healthful, vegetarian eating style and teaching them to enjoy being active are likely the most important lessons children can learn for their long-term health.

12 Healthful Snacks
Young children have high calorie and nutrient needs, but their stomachs are small. Teenagers also often have high energy needs combined with busy schedules. Keep delicious, healthful snack choices on hand both at home and in the lunchbox. Whole Grains, Breads, Cereals Pita chips, pretzels, whole-grain crackers, granola, whole-grain cereal, popcorn, granola bars Vegetables Baby carrots, celery stalks (try with peanut butter and raisins), cucumber, carrots, tomatoes with nondairy dressing, salsa (try with pita chips) Fruits Fortified orange juice, whole fresh fruits, dried fruit, applesauce, fruit cups, frozen grapes, or banana slices Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Nondairy Milks Hummus (try on carrots or crackers), nut butters (put on bread or fruit), edamame (whole cooked soybeans), soy yogurt (sprinkle with granola), soymilk, rice milk, almond milk

Play with Your Food Art ©

Learning to Eat Well


• Limit the quantities of highly processed foods and sugary beverages (otherwise known as “empty-calorie” foods) and help children understand reasonable portion sizes. Under most circumstances, restricting the calorie intake of children is not recommended. Children continue to grow and develop into their early 20s, so they can’t afford to shortchange nutrients. However, switching out the empty-calorie foods with healthy options ensures growing kids get everything they need—except the excess calories! • Learn to listen to natural hunger and fullness cues, rather than focusing on “cleaning plates.” Help children learn to pay attention to natural internal signals to keep from overeating. If a child does not want to finish his or her meal now, the plate can be wrapped and saved for when the child is hungry later. Promising dessert as a reward is best avoided as well, as it encourages overeating and makes less healthful foods seem special. • Teach children the value of good nutrition. Parents, guardians, and teachers can work with children toward an understanding that food is a fuel for health and fitness rather than a comfort, friend, enemy, or boredom reliever. Reading books to children that present nutrition in a fun and interesting manner is also a good educational method. • Engage children in the food preparation process. Gardening, picking berries, apples, or other produce at farms, grocery shopping trips, or visiting the local farmers market or fruit stand can spark an interest in healthful foods. Also invite children to participate in menu planning, as well as cooking. Even very small children can help stir cold or room temperature items, wash produce, or pour ingredients. These simple experiential lessons will often go a long way to promoting healthful eating habits.

Tips for Reducing Sodium
• Choose low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods. • Choose fresh, plain frozen, or canned “with no salt added” vegetables. • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. • Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table. • Choose prepared foods such as tempeh, seitan, and mock meats that are lower in sodium. • Rinse canned foods, such as beans, to remove some sodium.

Already Overweight Children
Just as with slim children, it is always the right time to adopt a healthful diet. Keep in mind that the two main contributors to overweight are low activity level and diets based on meat, dairy products, and high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. The first step toward health is assessing a family’s lifestyle by looking at eating patterns and activities to determine what changes are needed to promote fitness and achieve a healthy weight. The easiest and most effective method is for all members of the family to shift together—if possible—to a healthier lifestyle. The same healthful habits will benefit the rest of the family as well as the overweight child. Focusing on overall health is a better choice than embarking on a low-calorie diet for achieving fitness and a healthy weight. The idea is to focus on the quality of what is being eaten, not so much on the quantity. The healthiest diet avoids animal products completely and is built from grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. Plan menus using the Power Plate (see page 6).

Surviving the School Lunch Line
Families can also help to improve “get healthy” opportunities for children in schools. Many schools are under financial pressure to downsize health and physical education programs, so health-conscious families should support school districts in their efforts to promote wellness and physical education and to promote healthier lunches in the cafeteria. School lunch programs are required to provide nutritious, low-cost meals to students; parents and teachers can help school officials understand what options should be available for children. Here are some suggestions for improving the healthfulness of foods eaten in schools: • Pack a lunch. Bean and pasta salads, grilled tofu, burritos, and sandwiches make great lunches and are easy to pack. Last night’s leftovers are also a great, simple choice. Make sure to include several healthful snacks. • Encourage your child to request that low-fat, vegetarian entrées be placed on the lunch line. Demand for these items will encourage the food service to incorporate healthier foods into its menu cycle.

• Parents can also volunteer their time. Get involved with the PTA or directly with the food service. Work with them to help incorporate healthier foods. Some parents have even donated recipes or planned healthful snack breaks in the classroom. See for more information.

Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and More
Fortified foods and supplements are part of every American’s diet, whether they realize it or not. Many products have extra vitamins and minerals added; examples include certain grains, certain dairy products, and even most table salt. Choosing fortified plant-based foods without excess fat, sweeteners, and salt is a simple way to help consume enough micronutrients without the excess calories and sodium. Children and teens should consume 100 percent of the vitamins and minerals recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and it’s easy to get almost all of them through a healthful plant-based diet. However, certain vitamins and minerals—mainly calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D— can be most easily and most reliably obtained from fortified foods and supplements. Check for these important nutrients on the nutrition label of products such as soymilk, rice milk, tofu, and faux meats. When choosing fortified foods, look on the nutrition facts label and choose products containing 20 percent or more of the daily value (DV) per serving of calcium, vitamin B12, or vitamin D. Look for products with the lowest amount of saturated fat, sweeteners, and sodium. Aim for 100 percent of the DV for calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D each day, which is easy to consume with fortified foods, a multivitamin, and a healthful diet. With the wide availability of fortified foods, it’s never been easier to ensure that children and teens get all the nutrients necessary to grow and develop healthfully.

Tips for Important Nutrients

Play with Your Food Art ©

Staying Clear of the “Food Fight”
Children learn very early that what they eat is important to their parents, and they often use this knowledge to their advantage. Parents may sit for hours at the dinner table with their children until they finish their last asparagus spear. Food can be used as a reward, a way to exert control, or a way to rebel. Rewarding kids for good grades or good behavior with sweets can set up internal conflicts about food. This is especially true if the rewards are in opposition to current goals for health or body image. If not dealt with early, these “food fights” may extend into adult life as well. Finding a way to sidestep the “food fight” is a priority. If a child is having trouble sticking to healthful foods, the following strategies may be helpful: • Stock the kitchen with healthful foods. Having plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans on hand and keeping unhealthful foods out of the house are simple ways to eliminate conflict over which type of food to prepare or eat. • Focus on food as a fuel for health. Choosing a simple, health-giving way of eating like the one suggested in these pages and explaining to children why it is important to eat this way will help them to appreciate and choose healthful foods. • Reduce the emphasis on food in daily life. When people solve problems by eating or congratulate themselves with food, the importance of food has gotten out of control. Finding other solutions to problems, such as talking about them, writing about them in a journal, or taking a walk or a bike ride to figure out possible steps to take, are much healthier and more productive. Families should become accustomed to using nonfood treats as rewards, such as a warm conversation, reading, going to a movie or the park, making something, calling Grandma or a friend, or engaging in physical activities. • Set clear divisions of responsibility. If a “food fight” develops, parents should define responsibilities around foods. The parent is responsible for providing appropriate food choices. The child is responsible for choosing what to eat among the choices offered. • Allow for healthful treats. Fresh-fruit smoothies, a colorful cup of berries in season, or a vegetable dish prepared a favorite way can all be special treats and prevent a family from feeling deprived.

Play with Your Food Art ©

Sticking with It
The ease with which kids transition into and stick with this healthful dietary pattern can be positively influenced by a variety of factors. Family support, in terms of providing healthful foods and setting a good example as well as education about nutrition, is key. If your children have convictions about the welfare of animals or reducing the impact on the environment and/or have a clear understanding of the health value of good eating habits, they will be more likely to make the switch easily and be able to maintain this diet, not only while away from home, but throughout their lives.

For more information, please visit our websites:
Our main site for general information about healthful eating and our campaigns: PCRM’s Healthy School Lunch Campaign site: The PCRM Marketplace Online for information on our book, Healthy Eating for Life for Children:


These recipes and more are available on the PCRM website. Please visit for more healthful options.

Curly Pasta Salad
Makes 6 to 8 servings Make early to allow flavors to blend. 1 12-ounce package dry rainbow rotini pasta 1 16-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli and cauliflower, thawed completely 1 cup sliced mushrooms 4 green onions, chopped 1 2-ounce jar chopped pimentos 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 cup fat-free salad dressing 2 tablespoons soy sauce freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 dash Tabasco sauce (optional) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water. Place pasta in a large bowl. Add broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green onions, pimentos, and tomatoes. In a small bowl, mix fat-free dressing and soy sauce. Pour over salad and toss to mix well. Season with black pepper and Tabasco sauce, if using. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 304 calories; 63 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 1 g fat; 0.2 g saturated fat; 7 g fiber; 40 mg calcium; 735 mg sodium; 3 mg iron; 38 mg vitamin C Recipe by Mary McDougall of the McDougall Program,

Veggies in a Blanket
Makes 40 pieces 8 flour tortillas 1/2 cup hummus 4 grated carrots 8 lettuce leaves (or a couple handfuls of baby spinach leaves), or 1 container sprouts Warm tortillas in a dry pan, if desired. Spread hummus on the tortillas. Add carrots and lettuce or spinach. Roll up each tortilla, evenly place 5 toothpicks on each wrap, and slice into 5 individual rolls per tortilla. Variation: Add thin sticks of cucumber or sweet red pepper before rolling.
Per serving (4 pieces): 102 calories; 19 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 2 g fat; 0.3 g saturated fat; 4 g fiber; 27 mg calcium; 203 mg sodium; 1 mg iron; 2 mg vitamin C

Play with Your Food Art ©

Alphabet Soup
Makes 8 1-cup servings Little pasta in alphabet shapes makes this soup fun as well as nourishing. 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 4 cups tomato juice 1 small potato, scrubbed and cut into chunks 1 carrot, cut into chunks 1 stalk celery, sliced, including top 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 cup alphabet pasta or small pasta shells 1 cup finely chopped spinach, kale, or collard greens 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, undrained Heat oil in a large pot and add onion and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato juice, potato, carrot, celery, Italian seasonings, and black pepper. Cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Add pasta, chopped greens, and kidney beans and their liquid. Simmer until greens and pasta are tender, about 15 minutes. Extra tomato juice or water may be added if a thinner soup is desired.
Per 1-cup serving: 136 calories; 26 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 2 g fat; 0.3 g saturated fat; 4 g fiber; 426 mg calcium; 426 mg sodium; 2 mg iron; 27 mg vitamin C

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Makes 4 servings 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into wedges 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder vegetable oil spray Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine sweet potatoes, cinnamon, salt, cumin, black pepper, and garlic powder in a plastic bag. Seal and shake. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet (do not overlap) coated with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until very tender, flipping potatoes once during cooking.
Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 53 calories; 12 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 2 g fiber; 24 mg calcium; 106 mg sodium; 0.5 mg iron; 11 mg vitamin C

Simply Delicious Winter Squash
Makes 4 servings This is a great recipe for preparing butternut squash, because it’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious! 1 small butternut squash 1/2–1 cup water 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce Peel the squash, then cut it in half and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes (you should have about 4 cups). Place into a pot with water, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 63 calories; 16 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 2 g fiber; 54 mg calcium; 94 mg sodium; 0.8 mg iron; 18 mg vitamin C

Pita Pizzas
Makes 6 pizzas Whole-wheat pita bread makes a perfect crust for a child-size pizza, and children enjoy assembling them once the vegetables have been chopped. In addition to the toppings listed, you could also add fat-free vegetarian pepperoni slices. 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce 1 6-ounce can tomato paste 1 teaspoon garlic granules or powder 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 6 pieces whole-wheat pita bread 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 cup chopped mushrooms Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme. Turn a piece of pita bread upside down and spread with 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce. Top with chopped vegetables. Repeat with remaining pita breads. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until edges are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Note: You will only use about half the sauce. Refrigerate or freeze the remainder for use at another time.
Per pizza: 153 calories; 32 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 1 g fat; 0.2 g saturated fat; 5 g fiber; 24 mg calcium; 538 mg sodium; 3 mg iron; 40 mg vitamin C

Hearty Chili Mac
Makes 10 1-cup servings Children of all ages will enjoy this tasty combination of chili and pasta. 8 ounces dry macaroni noodles 1/2 cup water 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 8-ounce package vegetarian ground beef substitute or 4 vegetarian burgers, thawed (if necessary) and chopped 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, undrained 1 15-ounce can corn, undrained 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside. Heat water in a large pot. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and vegetarian ground beef substitute or chopped vegetarian burgers. Mix in tomatoes, beans and their liquid, corn and its liquid, chili powder, and cumin. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add cooked pasta and check seasonings. Add more chili powder if a spicier dish is desired.
Per serving (1 cup): 211 calories; 38 g carbohydrate; 12 g protein; 2 g fat; 0.3 g saturated fat; 5 g fiber; 62 mg calcium; 348 mg sodium; 4 mg iron; 24 mg vitamin C

Strawberry Smoothie
Makes about 2 1-cup servings Try this cold, thick smoothie with whole-grain cereal or muffins for a delicious breakfast. You can buy frozen strawberries or freeze your own in an airtight container. To freeze bananas, peel them and break into inch-long pieces. Pack loosely in an airtight container and freeze. Bananas will keep in the freezer for about two months, strawberries for six months. 1 cup frozen strawberries 1 cup frozen banana chunks 1/2–1 cup unsweetened apple juice Place all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping blender occasionally to move unblended fruit to the center with a spatula. Serve immediately.
Per serving (1 cup): 135 calories; 34 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 0.1 g saturated fat; 4 g fiber; 26 mg calcium; 5 mg sodium; 1 mg iron; 53 mg vitamin C


Foods That May Be New to You
The majority of ingredients in the recipes are common and widely available in grocery stores. A few that may be unfamiliar are described below. Additional vegetarian ingredients you may come across as you adopt this new eating pattern are also described below.


Arrowroot—is a fine white powder from a tropical plant. It

functions as a thickener to replace cornstarch, which is more refined than arrowroot. well as protein, vitamins, and minerals that are lost in the milling of white rice. Available in long grain and short grain varieties. Long grain, which is light and fluffy, includes basmati, jasmine, and other superbly flavorful varieties. Short grain is more substantial and perfect for hearty dishes. Nutritionally, there is very little difference between the two.

Brown rice—is an excellent source of protective soluble fiber as

Play with Your Food Art ©



Bulgur—is a grain made from wheatberries that have been

cracked and toasted. It cooks quickly and has a delicious, nutty flavor. Bulgur is high in fiber and protein, and contains easily absorbed minerals and vitamins, such as iron, calcium, and folic acid. Bulgur is also sold as “Ala.” can be used in place of chocolate in many recipes. One appeal of carob over chocolate is that carob is caffeine free. light-brown beans have a nutty flavor and are a great source of protein, fiber, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and zinc. They are available dried or canned. Some natural food stores and supermarkets sell a whole wheat version. Look for it in the grain section.

Carob powder—is the roasted powder of the carob bean, which

Chickpeas—are also called garbanzo beans. These versatile,

Couscous—looks like a grain, but is actually a very small pasta.

Nayonaise—is a cholesterol-free mayonnaise substitute that
contains no dairy products or eggs. Look for the fat-free version.

Non-hydrogenated margarine—is margarine that does

not contain hydrogenated oils (also known as “trans fats”). Hydrogenated oils raise blood cholesterol and can increase heart disease risk. Three brands of non-hydrogenated margarine are Earth Balance, Canoleo Soft Margarine, and Spectrum Spread.

Nutritional yeast—not to be confused with either brewer’s

or baker’s yeast, is cultivated specifically for use as a nutritional supplement. Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and has a nutty, creamy, cheesy flavor. Certain nutritional yeasts, such as Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula Nutritional Yeast and Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, are good sources of vitamin B12.

Miso (“mee-so”)—is a salty fermented soybean paste used to

flavor soup, sauces, and gravies. It is available in light, medium, and dark varieties. The lighter-colored versions have the mildest flavor, while the dark are more robust. Miso is rich in B vitamins and protein.

Potato flour—is used as a thickener in sauces, puddings, gravies,
and baked goods.


Quinoa (“keen-wah”)—is a grain-like food high in protein that
cooks quickly and may be served as a side dish, pilaf, or salad. It is sold in natural food stores.

Rice milk—is one of several “grain milks” used in place of cow’s

milk. Because rice milk does not contain lactose, it is also suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant.

Seasoned rice vinegar—is a mild vinegar made from rice and
seasoned with sugar and salt. It is great for salad dressings and on cooked vegetables.

Seitan (“say-tan”)—also called “wheat meat,” is a high-protein,
low-fat food with a meaty texture and flavor. sauces, cream soups, and dips.

Silken tofu—is a smooth, delicate tofu that is excellent for Soymilk—is nondairy milk made from soybeans that can be used

in recipes or as a beverage. Soymilk is sold fresh in convenient, shelf-stable packaging. Calcium-fortified varieties are widely available. in a salt-free version, as well as the original version which contains salt.

Spike—is a seasoning mixture of vegetables and herbs. It comes

Tahini (“ta-hee-nee”)—is sesame seed butter. It comes in raw
and toasted forms (either will work in the recipes in this book).

Tempeh (“tem-pay”)—is a hearty, fermented soy product that
can be used in place of meat in many recipes.

Textured (or texturized) vegetable protein (TVP)—is a
high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour. It also contains a fair amount of fiber and is low in fat and carbohydrates. The flavor is neutral, so it absorbs the flavors with which it is cooked.

Turbinado sugar—is also called “raw sugar” because it is less
processed than white sugar.

1. Uauy R, Solomons N. Diet, nutrition, and the life-course approach to cancer prevention. J Nutr. 2005;135:2934S-2945S. 2. Dunham L, Kollar LM. Vegetarian eating for children and adolescents. J Pediatr Health Care. 2006;20:27-34. 3. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in U.S. children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010;303:242-249. 4. CDC grand rounds: childhood obesity in the United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60:42-46. 5. Neumark-Sztainer D, Rock CL, Thornquist MD, Cheskin LJ, Neuhouser ML, Barnett MJ. Weight-control behaviors among adults and adolescents: associations with dietary intake. Prev Med. 2000;30:381-391. 6. Spock B, Parker SJ. Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. 7th edition, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1998. 7. Jeffreys M, Smith GD, Martin RM, Frankel S, Gunnell D. Childhood body mass index and later cancer risk: a 50-year follow-up of the Boyd Orr study. Int J Cancer. 2004;112: 348-351. 8. Dos Santos Silva I, Mangtani P, McCormack V, Bhakta D, Sevak L, McMichael AJ. Lifelong vegetarianism and risk of breast cancer: a population-based case-control study among South Asian migrant women living in England. Int J Cancer. 2002;99:238-244. 9. Narayan KM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for diabetes mellitus in the United States. JAMA. 2003;290:1884-1890. 10. Prevalence of abnormal lipid levels among youths—United States, 19992006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59:29-33. 11. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics--2011 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:e18-e209. 12. McDonough, P. TV viewing among kids at an eight-year high. NielsenWire. The Nielsen Company. October 26, 2009. Available at: http:// Accessed August 12, 2011.


Play with Your Food Art ©

Nutrition for Kids: A Dietary Approach to Lifelong Health
is published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20016
Nutrition for Kids is not intended as individual medical advice. Always discuss any diet change with your personal physician or your child’s pediatrician. In some cases, diet changes may alter medication needs. Persons who follow a vegetarian diet should be sure to include a source of vitamin B12 in their daily routine, such as fortified cereals, fortified soymilk, or any common multiple vitamin. Readers are welcome to reproduce articles from this publication for personal or educational use without additional permission. Material should not be reproduced for resale without prior arrangement with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. © PCRM, 2011

Play with Your Food Art ©


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful